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BLOG: 10 likely nightmares for 2014

Andrew C. Oliver | Jan. 3, 2014
From China hacking the cloud to Oracle becoming open source enemy No. 1, these dark predictions should be allowed to marinate slowly

5. The NSA will be hacked
The NSA is vacuuming up an awful lot of data and putting it in big collections. Does anyone really believe the rest of the world will resist that honeypot or the NSA will do enough to protect it? I'm betting this blows up into a fiasco. When Anonymous publishes the list of senators next to theirfavorite porn sites, I think we might start to see the NSA reined in.

6. Key-value/column-family NoSQL vendors crank up their negative marketing
Some members of the NoSQL crowd turned on one other in 2013, with DataStax actively marketing against the sector-dominant MongoDB. In 2014, we'll see this internecine warfare accelerate. The negative marketing seems to be coming mainly from the key-value and column-family vendors for some reason. I love a good show, but "the right database for the right job" is a much better campaign than "one database to rule them all." I also expect a VC pullback on strictly key-value database vendors. Eventually they'll figure out that the barrier is rather low (we're talking a hashtable plus distribution plus persistence) and the field rather crowded.

7. Patent pools
The major tech companies have been working on their anticompetitive strategies when they aren't suing each other. Microsoft purchased the Nortel patent pool and is looking to stifle innovation with the usual patent trolling. Your congressman is on the take, so expect no significant patent reform in 2014. Instead, look for more of the same at an accelerated pace. Lawsuits for everyone!

8. California venture pullback
There isn't really a venture capital bubble yet. In fact, there's hardly any venture investment whatsoever for the bulk of the industry, which is actually not in Silicon Valley. It's the Silicon Valley VC industry that's oversubscribed, with a number of startups boasting record valuations -- but outside of California, not so much. According to the 2013 National Venture Capitlal Yearbook, there were 1,280 deals in California for a total of $14.1 billion. The closest runner-up was Massachusets with 326 deals for a total of $3 billion, and you don't want to know about the rest of the country, much less the world. We've also been seeing lots of stupid dot-com-esque things get funded, particularly in the mobile space. We're headed for a bit of a rethink and hopefully some healthy geographic diversification (unlikely) and fewer celebrity stalker apps (likely).

9. Apple's stock may tank
This is one company that can do quite well and still disappoint investors. Apple is like Microsoft in the 1990s and early 2000s, when Redmond was a bellwether that underpromised and overdelivered nearly every quarter. Although the iPhone 5s has sold well, sales of the iPhone 5c have been subar. All it takes is a little shorter line outside the Apple Store and users waiting a little longer to upgrade to avoid another iMaps debacle and you have the makings of a pullback in stock price. With success comes risk -- and the risk for Apple is to merely underwhelm for too long.


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